COVID-19 Forces Progress in Reducing County Jail Population

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PIMA COUNTY MEMORANDUM
  • Pima County Memorandum

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the county's ongoing efforts to reduce the Pima County jail population.

The average daily population was 1,428 as of last week. Before the pandemic, the jail had an ADP of around 1,900, according to April 25 memo from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to the Board of Supervisors.

Huckelberry said there has been a "rapid decline" in daily bookings since around March 11, and he hopes that future bookings will be only for those who are an "actual danger to our community." A coalition of criminal justice agencies in the county have worked to reduce the number people in jail for nonviolent, low level drug offenses for years, with slower progress.



The decline in new bookings, coupled with recent efforts from the Pima County Public Defender's Office to secure the releases of people who were accused of nonviolent crimes and simply couldn't pay their bail, have resulted in a lower jail population, which is crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"It is ironic that all of our previous actions and activities associated with attempting to reduce our detention populations have been difficult," Huckelberry wrote in his memo. "However, the COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in what previously has been difficult to accomplish."

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